Under the warm sound of Gabriel Fauré’s “Requiem,” Chautauquans will gather to honor their loved ones on Sunday.
Although Chautauquans who have passed away are honored during every Sunday worship service, there is only one opportunity to honor loved ones who did not visit Chautauqua Institution. That occasion is at the annual “In Remembrance” Sacred Song Service, taking place at 8 p.m. Sunday in the Amphitheater, where the Chautauqua Choir and congregation come together to sing and reminisce.
“The vast majority of these people are people that you never will know who they are, but the fact that somebody wrote their name in that book means that they were important to somebody,” said Jared Jacobsen, organist and coordinator of worship and sacred music.
The books Jacobsen is referring to are the notebooks full of the names of deceased people close to the hearts of Chautauquans. They’ll take their place of honor yet again this year at the front of the Amp stage, marked by glowing candles.
Jacobsen said people are welcome to come add names to the book at the beginning of the service while the choir sings the anthem, “The Lord Is My Shepherd” by Will Todd.
There is something different in store for the program this year, though. High school and middle school students in the Youth Chamber Connection from Pittsburgh will join the Chautauqua Choir during the memorial service.
“I am a product of Chautauqua offering itself to young people here, so I am thrilled to be offering this in a different way with the tools that I have,” Jacobsen said.
The chamber, which was formed by other Pittsburgh-area music groups but conceived in Chautauqua, now includes upward of 50 students. In addition to their performance with the Chautauqua Choir, they will take classes throughout the week and perform again, with the Motet Choir, on Friday.
Jacobsen said the group, which is led by conductor Edward Leonard, has been practicing Fauré’s “Requiem” all summer in preparation. The song is one of the lighter musical requiems Jacobsen has found because it evokes a “warm and fuzzy” feeling and focuses on the resurrection, rather than death.
Although it may seem odd to have young people perform at a memorial service, Jacobsen said young musicians understand the blessed side of death.
“It’s not easy for kids to wrestle with death, but kids who are musicians wrestle with it by playing great music by great composers who have had to face it or are trying to wrestle with it,” Jacobsen said.